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Foundations for Sustainable Security

Project description

Efficient mechanisms for sustainable security

Electricity consumption by IT is growing, but resource sharing introduces information leakage risks, while reduced reliability margins cause fault attacks. Security is added to reliability mechanisms without considering adversaries, adding energy costs. The EU-funded FSSec project aims to improve efficiency by measuring security, designing efficient security mechanisms, using security to increase efficiency, and securing microarchitectural optimisations and lightweight isolation. The project will integrate principled cryptography grade security into all system layers, minimising and superseding inefficient reliability mechanisms to establish innovative foundations for sustainable security.


Security and efficiency are often seen as a conflict. IT already consumes 11% of electricity globally, with a steep upwards trend. Resource sharing increases efficiency but introduces information leakage vulnerabilities, such as Meltdown and Spectre. Reducing reliability margins also increases efficiency but introduces fault attacks, such as Rowhammer and Plundervolt. This reveals a fundamental problem in current systems: Reliability mechanisms are not designed with adversaries in mind. Security is then patched on top of reliability mechanisms, incurring additional energy costs.

We will overcome the conflict between security and efficiency with novel foundations to make security sustainable and use security to increase efficiency. We will research how to measure the efficiency of security, design principled and efficient security mechanisms, utilize security to increase efficiency, secure microarchitectural optimizations, and secure lightweight isolation.

Our methodology is to integrate principled cryptography-grade security into all system layers to minimize and supersede inefficient reliability mechanisms. We will develop a framework for fine-grained energy efficiency measurements. We will research fine-grained replication for side-channel isolation, maintaining efficiency. We will explore selective resource sharing for secure variables, enclaves, and virtual machines, superseding today's inefficient and insecure techniques.

The originality of FSSec stands out in that energy efficiency has played no role in security so far. In particular, using cryptography to replace established error correction methods will be the key to our goal of using security to increase efficiency by 20% compared to current systems. We will construct secure optimizations with fine-grained isolation, increasing the efficiency without adding side channels.

Asst.-Prof. Daniel Gruss heads an internationally renowned security research group. FSSec will fund 6 PhD students.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 498 489,00
Rechbauerstrasse 12
8010 Graz

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Südösterreich Steiermark Graz
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00